Arming Police Officers

Published: 2021-08-06 14:15:07
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Category: Crime, Justice, Police

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‘Arming’ Police Officers After the recent murders of two unarmed police officers in Greater Manchester, the question has been raised that ‘should police officers be armed’? Fiona Bone and her colleague Nicola Hughes died after going out on a routine patrol to check a reported burglary. It appeared that they were lured to the address for a deliberate attack. The question of ‘would they have survived if they had been armed’ remains unknown but many people have their opinion which I will be discussing throughout.
There can be a lot of benefits and disadvantages of ‘arming’ police officers in this country which I will be discussing along with the main issues raised in the article. One of the key issues raised in the article is that the two officers of this attack may have been victims of an ‘image boosting’ crime. This is where criminals specifically target police officers to be known as ‘folk heroes’ among the criminals. SIR PETER, F. 2012. ‘This case tells us something about the nature of organised crime, the level of intimidation that it creates and the fact people sometimes see others as folk heroes for being involved in this sort of activity. The Telegraph. 18 October. This suggests that officers in this country need to have more protection for themselves when facing criminals because they just don’t know what they are going to come up against. The two police officers who died weren’t expecting any trouble and thought they could easily handle it. There has been a number of incidents where police officers have been attacked and they had no protection for themselves such as when Raoul Moat threatened to kill police officers, including shooting one in the face and leaving him blind for the rest of his life.
DARREN, R. 2012. ‘How many officers need to die before the powers realise that it is the 21st century and you cannot fight crime with an outdated piece of plastic and a bit of spray. ’ The Telegraph. 18 October. Another key issue raised in the article is that a lot of other countries are armed to fight crime whereas here in the UK, there are only specific armed response units that go to specific incidents. In the article, the two police officers were going to a regular burglary allegation, unarmed and had no protection for themselves.

The arguments over whether the police should be routinely armed go back to the creation of the capital’s first force by Robert Peel in 1829. Officers in the 19th century would very often carry a gun but British policing took a different direction from Europe and America by declining to issue weapons on a routine basis. This is because he wanted the police to be members of the public, in uniform who could be easily approached by the public without them being intimidated. PHILIP, J. 2012.
The reason for this was set out in Peel’s principles of policing: he regarded the police as the public in uniform. Not for us the military-style continental carabinieri of whom the general populace walk in fear and distrust. Our police, said Peel, are civilians, members of the public “who are paid to give full-time attention to duties which are incumbent upon every citizen in the interests of community welfare and existence”. The Telegraph. 19 September.
Without the use of guns, it has made our country a less violent place than those where the police are armed. On the other hand, it leaves our police more vulnerable to the hardened criminals who are prepared to use weapons such as guns and knives on civilians and our police officers as we have seen over the recent years. There is also another main issue that comes up in the article which is many people; including police officers are passionate about the British style of policing which is remaining unarmed despite the increasing numbers of attacks on innocent police officers.
A 2006 survey showed that officers were very much against the idea of being armed. JON, K. 2012. A 2006 survey of 47,328 Police Federation members found 82% did not want officers to be routinely armed on duty, despite almost half saying their lives had been “in serious jeopardy” during the previous three years. BBC news magazine. 19 September. We have to remember that incidents such as the one that happened in Greater Manchester are extremely rare as gun crime remains low.
As you can see from the diagram below, there has been a rise in firearm offences in England and Wales over the years but since 2008 it has been gradually decreasing from 10,000 offences in 2008, down to 7,000 in 2010. (BBC NEWS MAGAZINE) There are many advantages and disadvantages of regularly arming police officers in this country. It allows the officers to feel protected at all times, even when they’re not expecting anything to happen. There have been many incidents where police officers have been attacked and had nothing to protect them.
Giving them the right to carry firearms would not only protect them but to let criminals know that they’re not afraid to use them. Fewer officers may die on duty if they were better protected. However, arming the police can lead to a spiral of violence. In places where the police are not routinely armed, a portion of criminals will not arm themselves. For example, armed robbery carries a higher sentence than robbery. Once the police are armed, criminals who do not match their capability have a disadvantage, therefore, when the police become routinely armed, the criminal world fully arms itself in response.
This would potentially lead into an increase in weapon possession and use. Giving police officers the right to carry firearms could also make communities feel safer. The sight of armed police officers patrolling the streets will not only scare ‘gangs’ from harassing the public but will restore communities with confidence that they are being properly protected. This could also backfire because the public may feel intimidated by the firearms and feel that they couldn’t approach a police officer.
Guns could potentially place a distance between the community and the police and have a negative effect. Day to day police checks such as spot checks on cars could seem a threat to the public. Also if police officers carry a firearm, they face the likely risk of having that weapon turned on them by a criminal. This could put police officers in greater risk. In conclusion to the question of ‘arming police officers’ there are a lot of benefits which would greatly help our police officers and our community but also a lot of threats which it may cause.
As we can see, there are a lot of big issues that rise from the article such as the increase of ‘image boosting’ crime which unarmed police officers are being targeted and why there are only a handful of countries including the UK whose police forces are not routinely armed. The question that still remains is should our police officers be armed? My opinion is that there are too many high risks that arming our officers may cause. I think that gun crime in England and Wales is extremely low comparing to other countries where the police are routinely armed, gun crime is higher.

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